The 136th running of the G1 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday is wide-open after the all important barrier allocations.
Pre-post $4 public-elect Lookin At Lucky (Smart Strike) didn’t receive a favourable draw in Gate 1. And the $6 second favourite Sidney’s Candy (Candy Ride) has to overcome Gate 20.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert saddles Lookin at Lucky and Conveyance (Indian Charlie) in an attempt to win his fourth Kentucky Derby.
The inside barrier has not yielded a Derby winner since Ferdinand in 1986. Baffert put a positive spin on the draw on what is likely to be a wet track this Saturday. “Sometimes with the weather like that, the inside might be a little bit better,” Baffert said. “”The main thing is that the horse is a good horse. That’s more important than the post.”
Jockey Garrett Gomez, who finished second on Pioneerof the Nile to longshot Mine That Bird last year, said he will not focus on any of the others in the field. “There are 20 of them out there and I learned last year that anybody can win.”
Sidney’s Candy is a serious threat for the Run for the Roses coming off convincing wire-to-wire victories in the G2 Santa Anita Derby and G2 San Felipe Stakes. But trainer John Sadler wasn’t impressed with the outside draw.
Big Brown won the 2008 Derby from 20 but the previous winner from the outside was Clyde Van Dusen in 1929.
“Initially, I wasn’t quite sure what to say,” Sadler said. “But in the end, what are you going to do? You do the best you can. That’s all you can do.”
Sadler’s second-stringer Line Of David is the only starter by a sire with an Australian connection. He is by former Coolmore shuttler Lion Heart who is now domiciled in Turkey. Line Of David was a G1 winner of the Arkansas Derby and is the probable leader in the first leg of the Triple Crown.
Lookin at Lucky and Sidney’s Candy are the only horses at single-digit odds. Three horses are rated at 10-1 – Florida Derby winner Ice Box (Pulpit), Gotham Stakes winner Awesome Act (Awesome Again) and top filly Devil May Care (Malibu Moon).
Devil May Care is one of four entrants from trainer Todd Pletcher who is still looking for his first Kentucky Derby after sending out 24 starters. The filly was a G1 Frizette Stakes winner last year and arrives in Louisville after an impressive G2 result in the Bonnie Miss Stakes.